PHILADELPHIA – The energy was palpable in the Palestra this evening with the Penn Pep Band rallying behind the victorious University of Pennsylvania volleyball team. The Quakers took down Cornell 3-2 (25-21, 20-25, 25-22, 21-25, 15-4) in a hard-fought conference battle. The Red and Blue improved to 11-9 overall, 5-4 Ivy, while Cornell fell to 7-12 overall, 3-6 Ivy.
Everything seemed to play in favor of Penn in the first set, as they jumped out to a 9-2 lead and never looked back. Cornell narrowed the gap to 10-6, but sophomore Jasmine DeSilva came up with not one but two straight kills to stunt the Big Red’s momentum. DeSilva proved to be the driving force behind the Quaker effort, as she forced a Cornell timeout with a kill to make the score, 19-10. Once play resume, DeSilva slammed another one down and paved the way for a 25-21 first set win.
It was a strong start for the Quakers who produced 22 of their own 25 points, with DeSilva knocking down eight kills alone, but Penn’s hot streak was cooled as the Big Red pulled out the stops with blocks and an increased hitting percentage. Despite the Cornell set-two victory, 25-20, it was a struggle for the Big Red to stop junior Kendall Turner, who lit up the board with five kills and a .714 hitting percentage.
The Red and Blue fought back in the third-set after falling behind, 6-2. It was a close set throughout, with neither team holding more than a four point lead. A six point rally by Penn was followed by another three points – kills from senior captain Kristen Etterbeek, sophomore Alexis Genske, and senior captain Susan Stuecheli – which swung the momentum in the Quaker’s favor with a 17-14 lead. The Red and Blue powered through and took set three, 25-22.
Penn jumped ahead early in the fourth set, 12-7, but Cornell pulled ahead with 13 of the next 15 points and led, 20-15. The Quakers tried to find a way past the Big Red force but it wasn’t enough as they dropped the fourth set, 25-21.
Cornell entered the fifth set hoping to finish where they left off, but the Quakers had much bigger plans in store. The Big Red responded to a kill from sophomore Alex Caldwell with their own kill, but Caldwell returned the favor and kicked-off a string of eight consecutive points. That run proved to be too much, and freshman Rachel Baader sealed the deal with an ace, and Cornell suffered a 15-4 fifth set loss.
Tonight’s third straight home win was a true team effort with four Quakers hitting double-digit kills – Etterbeek (16), Genske (15), DeSilva (13), and Turner (11). Etterbeek and Genske also notched 13 and 10 digs respectively, behind the defensive anchor captain Dani Shepherd (23). Along with Etterbeek and Genske, Caldwell also finished the night with a double-double: 35 assists and 20 digs.
Despite being outblocked 13-11, the Red and Blue led in kills (73-61), assists (69-57), digs (81-76), and points (94-77).
Tomorrow will conclude Penn’s five-match homestand when the Quakers host Columbia at 5 p.m.